This article describes a solution for a Honda Accord that hesitates while driving. The solution is pretty straightforward. If your Honda stutters, hesitates, or can’t decide which gear to shift into, this article may help solve your issues!

Honda Accord Hesitation – Problem Description

First let me describe the problem that I was having in detail. My 2004 Honda Accord developed a hesitation while driving at relatively slow speeds. It was particularly noticeable when driving at 30 mph in the city.

When you tried to maintain 30 mph or so, the vehicle would hesitate, or sputter. The hesitation was not violent, not like a jerk, more of a small slight tugging. For a full-on bucking and jerking, you may have this problem.

For this current issue, it was more annoying than anything else.

The problem wasn’t so much when you accelerated quickly. It was more of an issue when you were trying to maintain a relatively low speed. It was just a noticeable shudder.

The vehicle had about 170k miles on it at the time.

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What I Tried

I tried several things first, such as cleaning the mass airflow sensor, changing the air filter, and changing spark plugs, but the problem persisted. There were no error codes associated with this problem.

What Solved the Problem

Then someone suggested to me that I should flush the transmission fluid with fresh transmission fluid (must be Honda DW-1). I thought I’d give it a shot, and it worked! No more hesitation!

I figured it couldn’t hurt, and even if it doesn’t fix this problem, it should probably be done anyway. Honda recommends doing this every 120k miles, and I was quite sure the previous owner did not do this.

This is an automatic transmission vehicle. The way it is designed, it is not possible to drain all the automatic transmission fluid (ATF) out at once. You can drain out about 3 quarts at a time, and the total capacity is around 9 quarts. For this reason, I did the following.

Steps to Flush the ATF

I followed these steps:

  1. Ran the vehicle to warm up the ATF
  2. Drain 3 qts
  3. Add 3 qts
  4. Drive the vehicle for 50-100 miles
  5. Repeat Steps 2 through 4 for a total of 3 times.

This procedure will never completely remove all of the old ATF, it more dilutes it with clean ATF (if that makes sense).

This procedure took several weeks to complete, mostly I wanted to be sure that the fluid was well mixed, hence the driving between drains-fills.

After performing this operation, the hesitation while maintaining speed was gone. I’ve now driven the vehicle another 30k miles or so, and the problem has not returned.

I want to stress that this particular problem was not so much an acceleration problem. There are other problems where the vehicle hesitates upon acceleration that may have nothing to do with the ATF, but if you are having problems similar to those described here, this may be your solution. I detail the procedure in this post on how to flush atf fluid in a Honda Accord.

I read a lot about which fluid to use, typically the genuine Honda fluid is about $8/quart, so I looked into the possibility of using something else a little cheaper. After much research, the consensus is to bite the bullet and use the Honda fluid. I decided not to risk it, so that is what I went with, and also what I would recommend to you.


In the old days, the Honda ATF used to be called “ATF-Z1,” but now they are calling it “DW-1.”

Since I knew I would need at least 9 qts of ATF, I just went ahead and bought a 12-pack case.

What you’ll need:

Tools required to flush the Automatic Transmission Fluid:

Alright, let’s get started!

Instructions for flushing the ATF

I had to break this into a separate post. Here are the the instructions for flushing the ATF in a Honda Accord.

For more information on 7th generation (2002-2007) Honda Accord maintenance, check out these handy DIY articles.